I ordered my own dulcimer
Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions
: Yes, the deluxe with the package deal. I played the model 56 at his shop and it compared well to the McSpadden dulcimers I played in LA.
I've ordered my dulcimer! It was really difficult to choose without being able to listen to a lot of instruments. I visited Black Mountain Instruments in Calistoga CA and got to hear a beautiful dulcimer, but I wasn't convinced. My vacation took me to LA so I decided to look around while I was there. I was able to try four McSpadden dulcimers. I still couldn't pull the trigger. The loaner I am playing has a much bigger sound so I was still thinking. Then I remembered that Black Mountain Instruments makes a jumbo dulcimer. The craftsmanship of his dulcimer was excellent so I decided to cross my fingers and order one without playing it first. I should have it in a month or so. Walnut with a spruce top, rosewood fingerboard and a guitar style head. I'll be counting the days.
Not necessarily "one size down". The Strothers string gauge calculator shows that for a 29" VSL tuned DAA/DAd or CGG/CGc, you want .010 for the two Melody strings, a .012 for the Middle Drone, and a .020 wound string.
It looks totally great! It has the 6.5 extra fret, btw. I think you'll find that comes in handy. Don't put too heavy a set of strings on it, considering it's a 29" VSL (vibrating string length). Maybe .010 for the melody course.
I borrowed a dulcimer from my sister. I think it’s a kit dulcimer with a 29” VSL. It’s missing strings so I don’t know how it plays yet. It will give me something to work on my music theory with until I buy a dulcimer. .
I am a newbie looking to get my first dulcimer. I have made a point to listen to some differrent recordings to get a better understanding of different qualities and tones. Being inexperienced i can't be sure if all the differences i hear are related to the dulcimer or maybe to the tuning etc. I am comparing a audio file posted on this site of a McSpadden for sale with two YouTube videos. I am hoping to get opinions on what to attribute the differences between them too. The dulcimer, the tuning, the key, the notes played etc. Thanks for the input.
I want to apologize to Parker for threadjacking this topic.
Ken i think it all depends on what tunes you tend to play. Anyone who plays a lot of modern music, or blues, would certainly find a few extra frets handy. When I was playing many obscure traditional fiddle tunes in oldtime jam settings, I used my frets a whole lot. Maybe if i were playing the tunes you play, I would find them totally unneeded. Also, I tend to enjoy throwing a few quirky notes in to spice things up, as in the video.
Most dulcimers made today have the extra 6.5 fret- it can be quite useful, especially in DAd tuning. And there are now more folks ordering or adding 8.5 and 1.5 frets than there used to be, mostly because of playing modern pop music. On the other hand, there are also more people nowadays ordering dulcimers with NO extra frets, because there is lots to like about that too.
However, i wanted to point out how even some people who play only traditional music in noter style (like me) can find those extra frets to be invaluable.
i wonder what what was the original reason for excluding some frets. Was it a cost savings for frugal people making their own instrument or did they see a musical benefit to leaving them off?
For a demonstration of a dulcimer's intonation and tone, I don't think you need a great player. In fact, a great player can make a crappy instrument sound good. For a demo, the instrument should be in tune, but then you can just strum it a few times and play the notes going up a scale to demonstrate the intonation.
Then again, McSpadden dulcimers are very consistent in their tone and intonation. I often advise people out here on the west coast where you can almost never play a dulcimer before buying it that McSpadden and Folkcraft instruments are safe bets. And perhaps best of all, McSpadden dulcimers maintain their value well over time.
The asking price here is very fair.
P.S. Bing Futch plays a dulcimer with the 1+ and 8+ frets, so whatever negatives he might mentioned, obviously he feels the advantages outweigh them.
i agree with you. I’ve watched a couple dulcimer tone demonstrations and it was just a few notes.
@traildad said "I would love to learn to fingerpick and chord but I expect noter drone might be the limit of my ability. "
Please don't ever think of Noter & Drone style as limiting your dulcimer playing ability in any way!!!
I've been playing Noter & Drone style for lo these many years, on every dulcimer I've ever handled, including some with (IMHO) far too many extra frets. Those extra frets don't particularly get in your way playing N&D, but they aren't necessary -- for any style of play. Although I specialize in N&D and Anglo-Scottish Border Ballads, I do play some modern tunes with no additional frets at all.
i dont think that’s what I meant. Noter Drone isn’t the limiting factor, it’s my talent. I tried learning piano and was disappointed to hear how poorly I did with my arpeggio. I never learned to fingerpick my guitar either. I think fingerpicking is harder to do and may be above my ability. I will definitely give it my best shot though.
@traildad, I have a video on here where I'm using a dulcimer with 1.5 and 8.5 frets and am playing in noter style. In fact, you can see me using the 1.5 fret a whole lot in this traditional fiddle tune..
if you look more at the second half of the video it shows more closeups of my fretboard and you can hear the dulcimer better when closer. The 1.5 fret is the lowest fret i'm playing, and I'm playing it very often (to the right on your screen). It's the funky minor-sounding note on that 1.5 fret that i'm playing at the beginning of many phrases.
As you can see, once you get used to having those extra frets, it doesn't really create significant 'problems' when playing noter style, and I've always found those two extra frets handy, even with some traditional tunes.
That said, some folks prefer no additional frets at all, and that's cool too. The noter will run up and down just a bit smoother with no extra frets (but you can see in the video this issue didn't hold me back or sound choppy- makes less of a difference at higher speeds, in any case). I have some instruments with no extra frets and i love those too! But in my own case, I've found the extra frets to be more a help than a hindrance in my traditional noter style dulcimer playing. Hope this helps. :)
yes thanks. I can see it wasn’t slowing you down. I wanted to ask because I assume there was a reason they leave them out on some and include them on others. I think it was a Bing Futch video that implied a negative. The more frets the more options.
I of course don’t know. I don’t think I have anything generally against extra frets if they don’t cause problems using the noter.
I get the sense that the extra frets can be a plus and a minus. I think I heard the 1 1/2 and 8 1/2 are useful for modern music. Do they create a problem for noter drone style? I would love to learn to fingerpick and chord but I expect noter drone might be the limit of my ability.